Tony Blair: Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is failing the British people

Posted On: 
3rd April 2017

Labour is "failing" the British people by not providing the Government with a "competitive" opposition, Tony Blair has declared.

Tony Blair addressing the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference in Washington last month.
Credit: 
PA Images

The former Prime Minister said Theresa May and her aides spend "zero" time worrying about Labour because the party is no threat to them under Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Blair spoke out in an interview with Labour MPs Wes Streeting and Ruth Smeeth for Progress magazine.

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The three-times election winning ex-party leader said Labour was failing "to develop a new progressive agenda for today’s world".

"The next generation of technology, artificial intelligence, automation, big data, it’s going to transform the workplace," he said. "What’s our answer to it? We don’t have an answer to that question, we’re nowhere."

He added: "‘We [have] failed in what is our fundamental duty to the British people, that is to be a competitive opposition. Just ask yourself one simple question: In the Prime Minister’s office, in Tory high command, how much of their time do they spend worrying about the prospect of a Labour victory at the present time? I would guess zero."

POPULISM

Jeremy Corbyn famously re-launched his leadership in January with a vow to take provide a left-wing alternative to the right-wing populism of the likes of Donald Trump.

But Mr Blair said that was doomed to failure, and that Labour should be trying to re-claim the political centre ground again.

He said: "If you put a right-wing populism up against a leftist populism, the right-wing populism will win every time. In the end, the lesson is the same, but we can spend 20 days, 20 months or 20 years relearning it. If we want to return to power, that’s how."

NEW LABOUR

Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Blair said Labour must also stop trashing the achievements of the government he led.

He said: "The people on the far-left always want to present this as if there was a battle between them, who are very principled, and us, who are just power-hungry. At times, you’re tempted to fall into that trap and say, 'Okay, but if you don’t have power, you can’t do anything. The reason we have a minimum wage, civil partnerships and maternity rights, and we lead the world in international development, we had the Northern Ireland peace process, is because we were in power'.

"You can have that argument, but actually it’s a ridiculous dichotomy to put upon yourself, because the whole purpose of having power is to implement your principles. Your principles have to take account of changing times, otherwise what are they? They’re just a kind of relic."

He added: "This idea that we were some neo-liberal government - we made massive investments in health and education. We founded, for example, the Department for International Development, which has helped save millions of lives worldwide.

"For us to denigrate our own record is crazy. When I left office in 2007, satisfaction levels with the health service were virtually at record levels, because of investment and the reform. That’s not a betrayal of principles, it’s the implementation of it."